Maoist Theories of Policy-Making and Organization

Lessons from the Cultural Revolution

by Harry Harding

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A study of the changes in Chinese communist theories of policymaking and organization produced by the Cultural Revolution, and their probable effects on the Chinese political system. On the eve of the Cultural Revolution, Mao Tse-tung had serious reservations about party activities. He therefore promulgated a new party constitution and created revolutionary committees. These developments are analyzed to infer Maoist normative organizational theory, which minimizes formal and specialized bureaucratic structure, combines party and state functions into one organization, recruits along social class lines, uses the "masses" to supervise and discipline party members, and decentralizes administrative power. The party leader remains above party discipline so that he can set goals, define dogma, and check tendencies toward decay, ossification, and revisionism. Although the mass-line can be an effective mode of both decisionmaking and social integration, its dogmatic variant may lead not only to impractical decisions but also to factionalism and fragmentation.

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